The Many Colors of Marketing Success

The top 10 marketing successes and failures of the year, published in the latest edition of TheMarker magazine, reveal much about effective marketing options: from the political action campaign that adopted a color, emblazoned it on a ribbon, and tied it around the country, to the daring rebranding of Israel's most veteran cellular operator - Pelephone - and the one-man tour de force, Avishai Braverman, who almost single-handedly marched Ben Gurion University of the Negev forward, thanks, among other things, to his extraordinary ability to attract rich donors. Here are a few of the prominent members of the lists.

After much consulting with marketing experts, TheMarker's number one choice was the campaign against the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, led by the Gush Katif headquarters and its director, Rafi Seri. Not only did the campaign lead to a dramatic change in public opinion, from 65 percent in favor of the disengagement before the campaign to less than 50 percent when the list was published, but also the campaign's simplicity and "viral" effectiveness bore witness to the ability of a simple message with a simple symbol to recruit supporters and advance a cause.

Although it is uncertain whether the Gush Katif headquarters' victory over public opinion will be more than temporary, and it is almost certain that it will not prevent evacuation of the Gush - from a marketing point of view, orange, the color of the Gaza Coast Regional Council's flag since its establishment, has become rooted in our consciousness and recorded as a dizzying success.

The second success was a gamble - both in terms of money and image. In the middle of last year, Pelephone began a dramatic marketing effort, erasing any trace of its former self and presenting a new brand, bluer and simpler. Honesty and simplicity were the two values on which the company based its brand in an attempt to erase the its image as an expensive, technologically backward, arrogant and inefficient brand.

A life or death gambit

With an annual $10 million investment, including $2 million in the first month, Pelephone launched its rebranding with the assistance of Bauman Ber Rivnay. Despite all the doubts regarding the efficacy of selling a cellular telephone - a sophisticated, technologically advanced and fashionable product - with a message of simplicity, Pelephone actually began closing in on Cellcom, the country's second-largest cellular provider after Partner. Consumers began noting Pelephone as the preferred brand from a price standpoint, and by the first quarter of 2005, Pelephone was attracting new subscribers at a faster pace than the competition.

Third place for image-building campaigns went to Bank Hapoalim. Although the campaign's effect is harder to measure, it definitely had a subconscious influence on consumers. The campaign was designed to make people identify with Hapoalim as the country's most "Israeli" bank. Following the advice of publicist Rani Rahav, Hapoalim invested NIS 4 million so that all the country's museums and national parks open to the public, free of charge, during the intermediate days of Pesach (the last week of April). Then, prior to Independence Day (in mid-May), Hapoalim magnanimously spent NIS 10 million on Israeli flags, which it distributed to the public via daily newspapers. This may have hurt flag sellers on the street corners, but hundreds of thousands of people apparently flew the flags distributed by the bank.

Speaking of Israeliness - this time in the failures department - what could, theoretically, be more Israeli than the Ahla prepared salad brand? Its branding campaign was one of the country's more memorable in recent years, but it turned out that when the marketing was scaled down, so was the public's loyalty to the brand. During the lull between campaigns, Ahla's market share fell from 60 percent to 33.5 percent, as Israelis followed the ads and bought Tsabar salads instead. By then it was too late, and even with a NIS 25-million campaign, Ahla regained only 1.5 percent of the market, while Tsabar retained its 50-percent share.

How not to market

Another management mistake, or perhaps a whole series of mistakes, led to the distinction of the second worst failure. Telad's tender for Channel 2 simply lacked leadership.

Third place went to Education Minister Limor Livnat, for her lack of wisdom in not renewing the public relations contract with Erez Communication, which had created positive momentum in introducing the Dovrat Commission's recommendations for education system reforms. Livnat put media relations in the hands of a ministry assistant spokesperson, and then fired 4,500 teachers, linking their dismissals to cutbacks in the ministry's budget, resulting in sweeping opposition to the recommendations and to Livnat herself.